Embarrassing Bodies Bodies Bodies
BODIES BODIES BODIES
“This is not a safe space.”
Director: Halina Reijn / Writers: Sarah DeLappe, Kristen Roupenian / Cast: Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Myha’la Herrold, Rachel Sennott, Chase Sui Wonders, Pete Davidson, Lee Pace.
Body Count: 5
Laughter Lines: “And you know what? Your parents are Upper. Middle. Class.”
Somewhat ironically, I saw a TikTok skit where a group of TV producers pitched a Real Housewives-esque show called ‘Women Screaming at Each Other’. Beware spoilers spoilers spoilers.
A group of privileged young folks gather for a ‘Hurricane Party’ at the sprawling mansion owned by David’s family. To this comes the recently-done-with-rehab Sophie – David’s childhood best friend – and her new girlfriend, Bee.
Mid-drinks n’ drugs, the power goes out – crucially taking out with it the wifi – and the group elect to play the titular game (‘Murder in the Dark’ to most of us), warning newcomers Bee and Greg that it could get ugly. Accusations and arguments ensue, with Greg out first, then David, who storms off, only to appear a short while later outside the window, throat slashed.
Those still awake – all the girls – suspect Greg and shit goes down, but they soon find out they’re wrong when another body turns up, leading to a total breakdown of the group, mucho name calling, backstabbing, and more death. When it’s just Sophie and Bee left, fighting each other, they stumble upon David’s phone, and on it a video showing him trying to record a TikTok of him sabring a champagne bottle and accidentally cutting his own throat.
The gag? There was no killer – just paranoia. This revelation comes literally seconds before the end and is, bluntly, way too little too late after 90 minutes of people walking around in the dark and little else.
For a film written and directed by women, the core message stemming from all of this seems to be that girls are stupid and irrational. That the proximate cause of it all was a man’s stupidity might be the intended conclusion here, but once it’s over, it’s only the female characters who have been drawn as nasty backstabbers, all male characters are effectively absolved of responsibility due to their absences. The Slumber Party Massacre remake dealt with this much, much better.
It’s an overarching jab at Gen-Z networking; the four-way row that sees the girls screaming about being gaslit, triggered, emotionally abused – “I can’t believe you’re making this about you!” It’s the best scene, and if you’ve witnessed an online argument in the past five years, you’re going to hear most of the terms used here.
An interview with director Reijn revealed that the crumbling of trust is activated by the loss of wifi, reducing the capabilities of the youngsters to otherwise function, a joke that ends the film, the last line of which is: “I have reception”.
Tech-addiction allegories notwithstanding, Bodies is just boring. Really fucking boring. A 30-minute anthology segment may have been the best showcase for such a slight, oh-was-that-it? punchline, but still too long exposure to the least likeable bunch of characters you’re ever likely to see on screen. I don’t know if there’s a genuine inability to write characters we might – gasp! – care about, or just a casual disinterest.